Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney made a sweeping apology today for his universally maligned statement that President Obama "sympathized" with attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts in the Middle East.
In an inverview this morning with KTLA morning news in Los Angeles, CA, Romney says that his campaign made a "huge strategic error" in trying to extract political advantage from a national tragedy, and apologized profusely for his role in the fiasco.
Last Tuesday protesters breached the U.S. embassy in Cairo and a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, ostensibly to express outrage over an American film critical of Islam.
Later that evening, the protests in Benghazi turned deadly and four diplomats were killed, including J. Christopher Stevens the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.
As those attacks unfolded Romney issued his own statement which blasted Obama for the tepid press release "responding" to the protests.
But the press release to which Romney refered had been issued by the U.S.'s Cairo embassy, not President Obama. And it was issued just before the demonstrations in Cairo were due to begin, and long before the deadly attacks in Benghazi. These facts Romney did not make clear.
As surprising as it was to see a national political figure make such manifestly incorrect claims, many political observers were more shocked by Romney's strident tone against a President in a time of national crisis. In the shrillest passage, Romney essentially accused Obama of rooting against America:
"The administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt, instead of condemning their actions. "
In KTLA's this studio morning, Romney could not have been more eager to walk back his controversial comments:
"The fact of the matter is that I spoke before I knew all the facts. I should have waited a few days and collected all the information before I made a statement. Clearly there were some factual errors in what I said, and I am sorry."
He then explained that his problems with his behavior go further:
"But worse than that - worse than just being hasty- I attempted to politicize a national tragedy for my own political gain. And I was wrong to do so. It was shameful of me to do so."
"I got some bad advice. An advisor of mine who is no longer with the campaign suggested that we hit Obama hard. Our attacks in the economy weren't working. We needed to open up another line of attack. Strategically it made sense. I should have had the wisdom to say no. But I didn't."
"Now this has been a tough campign, and there have been a lot of tough things said on both sides. But my statement crossed a line. And I am sorry."
Romney then explained that despite his flaws he still feels he is the best candidate to lead the country because of his expertise on the economy. Later, he closed with a personal plea for forgiveness:
"I may not be perfect, but I am man enough to admit when I am wrong. If President Obama and the American people can forgive me, I promise I will never put partisan politics ahead of country again. "
"Like seriously guys - this time I mean it. Like for real."